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DO YOUR DUTY

do your duty.

DO YOUR DUTY

There was once a horrible drought. Year after year not a drop of rain fell on the arid ground. Crops died, and, as the land became parched, farmers gave up even planting their seeds.  As the time of planting and tilling the ground came for the fourth rainless year in a row, the farmers of the region had given up hope and they sat listless, passing their time with playing cards and other distractions.

However, one lone farmer continued patiently to plant his seeds and sow and till his land. The other farmers poked fun at him and derided him as he continued daily to take care of his fruitless, barren land.

When they asked him the reason behind his senseless tenacity, he said, “I am a farmer and it is my dharma to plant and till my land. My dharma does not change simply due to whether the clouds rain or not. My dharma is my dharma and I must follow it regardless of how fruitful or fruitless it appears to be.” The other farmers laughed at his wasteful effort, and went back to their homes to continue bemoaning the rainless sky and their fruitless land.

However, a passing rain cloud happened to be overhead when the faithful farmer was giving his answer to the others. The cloud heard the farmer’s beautiful words and realized, “He’s right. It is his dharma to plant the seeds and to till the land, and it is my dharma to release this water which I am holding in my cloud onto the ground.” At that moment, inspired by the farmer’s message, the cloud released all the water it was holding onto the farmer’s land. This rain cloud then continued to spread the message of upholding one’s dharma to the other rain clouds, and they too – upon realizing it was their dharma to rain – began to let go of the moisture in their midst. Soon, rain was pouring down upon the land, and the farmer’s harvest was bountiful.

In life, we tend to expect results from our actions. If we do something well, we want to be rewarded. If we work, we want to be paid (whether financially or in some other way). We want to work only so long as the work reaps rewards. If the fruits cease to come, we decide the work is not “meant to be,” and we abandon it.

However, that is not the message which Lord Krishna gives to Arjuna in the Gita. The message is that we must do our duty regardless of the fruits. We must live according to our dharma regardless of whether it appears to be “successful.” We must perform our duties for the simple fact that they are our duties.

Lord Krishna tells Arjuna to stand up and fight, and says that, even if he dies in the battle, he must still do his dharma. The Lord tells Arjuna that it is divine to die on the battlefield of life (meaning engaged in performing your duty). He explains that either way, Arjuna will “win.” If the Pandavas win the battle, then they will obliterate the evil influence of the Kauravas and inherit the kingdom. If, on the other hand, the Kauravas win the battle and the Pandavas are killed, then they will go straight to the Lord’s eternal abode, for they died in the service of Dharma.

Usually in life, we know what our duties are. We know our responsibilities. We can see the “right” thing to do. This is especially true if we take quiet time to meditate, reflect and contemplate. Yet, too frequently we walk away from doing the “right” thing or from performing our duty due to the uncertainty of the result. We don’t want to “waste our time” or “look like a fool.” We neglect our responsibilities by saying, “It doesn’t matter any way.” We shun our duties with words like, “Well,  no one else is doing it, so why should I?”

This is not the way to live. We must realize that there is an enormous, infinite cosmic plan at work and we must all perform our allotted tasks to the best of our ability. Whether we actually succeed or fail in the venture should not be the biggest concern. True success comes not in a financial “win,” but rather in the humble, tenacious, dedicated performance of our tasks.

Interestingly enough, when we act with righteousness and integrity, we find that others will follow. It is not that we are taken advantage of, as we frequently fear. Rather, if we set the divine example, others will follow. Just as the rain cloud followed the example of the tenacious farmer, so will those in our lives follow our own examples. If we act with honesty, we receive honesty. If we act with dedication and love, so we will receive dedication and love. If we fulfill our dharma, so will those around us learn to do the same.

Yet, even if we are the only ones acting piously, acting honestly, acting with devotion, it should not matter. Our lives, our happiness and our karma are individual entities. They are not dependent upon the response from others.

Therefore, we must all learn to stand up, have courage and keep performing our duties, regardless of whether it looks like success or failure will result. Through the fulfillment of our dharma we will achieve the greatest success in life – bliss, peace and enlightenment.

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REAL EDUCATION

REAL EDUCATION
REAL EDUCATION

Once there was a boat, sailing in the middle of the ocean.
On the boat, were a philosopher, a scientist, a mathematician,
and the boatman. The philosopher turned to the boatman
and asked, “Do you know the nuances of Vedanta? Do
you know the theories of Plato and Aristotle?” “No,” replied
the boatman. “I have never studied those things. I
only know to take God’s name in the morning when I wake
up and at night before I sleep, and to try to keep Him with
me all day long.” The philosopher looked at him with disdain.
“Well, then at least 30% of your life has been in vain.”

Next, the scientist asked the boatman, “Do you know
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity? Do you know Newton’s
laws?” The boatman looked out at the reflection of the
moon on the water. The light seemed to dance playfully
off of the waves, touching first here, then there. He gently
shook his head in response to the scientist’s question.

“No,” he said. “I am not learned in that way. I have only
learned to be kind, to give more than I receive, to be
humble and pious.” “Well,” the scientist exclaimed. “Then
at least 40% of your life has been in vain.”
The mathematician then turned to the boatman. “You must
at least know calculus? You must know how to compute
advanced equations?” The boatman closed his eyes and
entered a meditative trance. “No,” he said softly, a smile                                                                                 creeping across his sun-weathered face. “I do not know
those things.” “Then, your life has been at least 50% in
vain!” The mathematician retorted.

The four sat in silence for awhile, when suddenly the waves
began to rise up furiously; the sky turned dark, obscuring
the blanket of stars. The boat – thin and wooden – began
to rock back and forth, up and down, with each thrust of
the waves. The boatman fought diligently, using every
muscle in his body, every skill he had to regain control over
his boat. But the storm was winning the fight, and with
each surge of the waves, the boatman became more and
more convinced that the boat could not withstand this
beating.

As a wave lifted the boat high into the air, the
boatman asked his passengers, “Do you know how to swim?”
“NO!!!” they all cried at once. The wave dropped the boat,
upside down, back in the raging water. The boatman
watched sadly as the scientist, the philosopher and the
mathematician drowned. “Well,” he whispered “I think 100%
of your lives have been in vain.”

In this life, there are so many things to learn, so many
things people say are important. Education is, of course,
quite important. A doctor cannot operate if she doesn’t
know where the organs are, or how to sew a wound back
up again. A scientist cannot perform experiments unless
he knows which chemicals to use, and how much of each.
An architect cannot design buildings without knowing
what foundations and support are necessary.
However, in the big picture, these are not the lessons or
the education that truly liberate us. It is not this know                                                                                     edge that saves us from drowning in the ocean. Only the

knowledge of God can do that. Only love for Him, devotion
to Him, and a life-vest inflated by Him can protect us
in the raging sea of this world. For, many times in life, we
feel like we are drowning. Many times we feel like we
have swallowed so much water we can’t breathe. It may
seem as though our legs cannot possibly tread water for
another minute.

At times like this we tend to turn to what we already know
– more education, the acquisition of more possessions, the
fulfillment of more sense pleasures. However, perhaps it
is these that have caused our boat to capsize in the first
place. Perhaps the ominous waves of the ocean are actually
made up of our insatiable desires, of our purely academic
educations, of our disregard for the Supreme Power
behind and within everything.

Instead of making ourselves heavier and heavier, in which
case we will surely drown, we must turn to the light, everpresent
life vest around our bodies. It is knowledge of God,
of how to truly live that will save us. The boatman knew
how to see the stars; he knew how to watch God play in
the light; he knew how to remain calm and serene even
when challenged and insulted. He knew how to really
swim.

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WHO IS HANDICAPPED?

WHO IS HANDICAPPED

 

WHO IS HANDICAPPED?

Across the world there is a wonderful organization called
the Special Olympics. This foundation sponsors “Olympics”
for people who are physically and/or mentally handicapped.
These are people who may be suffering from anything
ranging from partial paralysis to brain damage to what is
just referred to as “retardation.” Participating in these
events not only trains the athletes to perform up to their
highest potential, but it also infuses them with a sense of
success, of competence, of achievement.

Recently, I heard a beautiful story about a race taking
place in the Special Olympics. The athletes were lined up
at the mark. The official yelled, “Ready, set, go!” and the
athletes took off, all running as fast as their legs would
carry them, with looks of determination, dedication and
drive on their faces. All except one, that is. A young boy
had tripped, immediately after starting, and had fallen into
the dirt. He looked forlorn as he watched his peers race
off without him.

Then, suddenly, a young girl who was running turned her
head to see what had happened to the boy. As soon as she
realized he fell, she turned around and ran back toward
him. One by one, each of the athletes turned around to go
back and look after the fallen boy. Soon all the runners
were gathered around the young boy; they helped him to                                                                       his feet as one girl brushed the dirt off his pants. Then, all
the athletes held hands as they walked together, slowly,
toward the finish line.

These are the people we refer to as “handicapped” or “retarded”
or, euphemistically, “mentally and physically challenged.”
Yet, would we who have full use of all our limbs,
whose brains function at their highest capacity, ever turn
around in the middle of a race, giving up our long soughtafter
hope of winning and go back to look after someone
who was down? Would we ever sacrifice getting to the top,
being the best, winning it all, just to lend encouragement
to another? Rarely.

We spend our lives pushing to be higher and higher, better
and better. We want to be the best, to be the top, to be
number one. But at what stake? What do we give up in the
process? They say, “The mark of a true man is not how tall
he stands, but how frequently he bends down to help those
in need.” How frequently are we willing to bend?
The goal of life is not the accumulation of more and more
possessions, or more and more degrees. The point of life is
to move toward God, to realize our oneness with Him. The
point of life is to fill every moment with compassion, with
love, with prayer and with service.

Yes, of course, we must go to work and we must do our
best in every possible arena. Of course we must attempt
to succeed; we must live up to our fullest potential. But,
too frequently, we become narrow minded in what we see
as our “potential.” Is our potential merely financial, or academic
or professional? Might we have another potential,                                                                                        a divine, compassionate, pious, devoted potential that is
just waiting to blossom?

Let us vow to live up to every potential — not just those
that confront us obviously in our daily life, but also those
which may be hidden below the surface. The athletes may
have thought, (and the audience may have thought as
well) that their success, their achievement would be
marked by how quickly they could run the 100 yards. However,
the deep potential of these athletes was even greater
than completing a “quick sprint.” They chose compassion
over competition; they chose unity over individual success;
they chose to really show us what it means to be divine
souls.

Let us take a lesson from these athletes, who are far less
“handicapped” than most of the people in the world. Let
us learn that each race in life may have two different paths
for success; let us learn that compassion, love and unity
are much more everlasting achievements than a blue ribbon.
Let us vow to turn our heads around frequently and see
whether, perhaps, there is someone who needs our help.

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WE ARE ONLY HIS TOOLS

we are only his tools

WE ARE ONLY HIS TOOLS

 

Several years ago the United Nations was having its 50th
Anniversary Golden Jubilee celebration. World leaders –
religious, political, social – were gathered together to commemorate
this special anniversary. Numerous renowned
people gave speeches — on the global significance of the
UN, on the importance of fostering inter-ethnic harmony,
on how to curtail the insidious trafficking of drugs, on the
necessity of preserving and protecting our rapidly diminishing
natural resources.

Each was allotted a short period of time in which to speak.
Most were given 3 minutes; some were given 5 minutes. Time
was watched carefully. Note cards were held up, alerting
the speaker that he or she had 3 minutes left, then 2 minutes,
then 1 minute.

A divine, old, revered Indian saint, clad only in scant saffron
robes, walked slowly, yet purposefully and unwavering
to the podium when it was time for his talk. As he spoke,
silence descended upon the room. While most speeches
were read from notecards, or were the product of careful
and deliberate editing, his words seemed to speak themselves.
Dadaji was given 5 minutes to speak. However, as
the organizers held up signs that read, “2 minutes left,”
then “1 minute left,” he showed no signs of winding up his
talk. The signs then read, “30 seconds left,” then “Finished!!!”

However, the saint was in such ecstasy, he was so
impassioned with the words that were effortlessly flowing
from his mouth, that he seemed not to even notice the
signs.
At first the organizers were noticeably restless and anxious.
After all, there were so many other people to speak,
so many other segments of this important function. How
to get this saint to step down from the podium? However,
as he continued, his words were like a lullaby. Even the
anxious organizers became still and peaceful, mesmerized
by the quality of his words and his tone. The hall – filled
with an audience of thousands – was as quiet as if it were
empty. Dadaji spoke for 25 minutes, an unprecedented
amount of time.

When he concluded, the silence of the auditorium broke
like thunder into a clamorous standing ovation. No one who
was present was unchanged. The saint’s words had reached
not only minds, not only hearts, but also souls. He was
flooded with accolades and tear-streaked faces as he descended
from the stage. “Oh Dadaji, your speech was incredible.
So inspiring. So uplifting. It was just wonderful.”

Everyone wanted to praise this elderly yet seemingly
ageless Indian saint. After one man took Dadaji’s hands
and gave particularly effusive praise, the saint looked
sweetly into his eyes and replied, “Yes, it was wonderful. I
was also listening.”
“I was also listening.” “I was also listening.” This should
be our mantra. For, it is not we who speak. It is He who
speaks, although we like to take the credit.

How easy it would have been for Dadaji to have simply replied, “Oh,
yes, I know my speech was good. I spent days preparing
it.” Or “Yes. I’m a very good speaker, aren’t I?” However,
he is a true man of God. He knows from where his words
come. He knows whose words flow through his mouth.
Those who are the true inspirations, who are the true teachers
of this world, are actually simply channels.

They are not the ones who spend lifetimes refining their tenaciously
held beliefs and then impose these upon others. Rather,
they simply open up the channels inside them and let God
flow into their hearts and through their mouths or their
pens. We are all here as tools for His work, as expressions
of His love. Let us realize that; let us break the dams within
us, so the river of His work and His message can flow ceaselessly
through us.

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SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP

SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP

 

SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP

 

There is a story of a farmer who had an old mule. One day
the mule fell into the farmer’s empty, dry well. As the mule
cried for help, the farmer assessed the situation. Although
the mule had served the farmer faithfully for many years,
the farmer decided that neither the mule nor the well was
worth the trouble. So, he decided that instead of bothering
to lift the heavy mule from the well, he would simply
bury him in there. The farmer called his friend and together
they began to shovel dirt into the open well.
When the first shovelful of dirt hit the mule he panicked.
“What is this?” He thought. When the second shovelful hit
him, he began to cry. “How could the farmer do this to
me?” he wondered. When the third shovelful hit him, he
realized the plan. However, the mule decided that he would
not allow himself to be buried alive. As each shovelful hit
fell upon his back, he rallied himself to “shake it off and
step up.” As shovelful after shovelful of dirt hit him on his
back, and as he felt dejected and pained, he continued to
chant to himself, “shake it off and step up.” This he did,
shovelful after shovelful, until – as the dirt reached the
top of the well – the mule triumphantly walked out of what
would have been his tomb.
If the farmer had not decided to kill the mule, the mule
would never have survived. Ironically, it was the dirt which                                                                               Fin was meant to end the mule’s life that actually ended up
saving him, simply due to the way in which the mule handled
the situation.
In life, sometimes we feel as though the world is “throwing
blows at us.” We feel shattered and broken. We feel as
though we are being “buried alive.” Perhaps someone is
actually trying to injure us; or perhaps we are simply stuck
in a difficult situation. Either way, we have two choices.
We can either succumb to the onslaught and allow ourselves
to be buried, or we can “shake it off and step up.”
The latter is surely a more difficult path. It requires resolution,
will to survive, fortitude and faith. But, in the end, it is
the path that will lead to our triumph. If we continue to
“shake off” whatever hits us in life, and we continue to
“step up” and rise above any situation, then we, too, will
always be victorious and our lives will be successful and
joyful.

 

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SERVICE TO OTHERS IS THE BEST MEDICINE

SERVICE TO OTHERS IS THE BEST MEDICINE

SERVICE TO OTHERS IS THE BEST MEDICINE

 

There is a beautiful story of a princess who was suffering
from an undiagnosable illness. She lay in bed, listless, unable
to walk or to exert herself at all. She had lost all
appetite and her parents feared she would soon perish.
Her father, the King, called in all the top doctors and medical
specialists, but none could either diagnose or cure the
young princess.

They gave her allopathic, homeopathic, and
ayurvedic medicines. They gave her pills, compresses, powders,
massages and mineral baths. Nothing made even a
dent in the princess’s condition. She continued to lay, limp
and mute, on her bed, staring blankly at the ceiling above
her.

Finally, in desperation, the King called a revered holy man,
a saint who was worshipped throughout the kingdom as
having divine knowledge and powers. As soon as the sage
saw the princess, he understood exactly what was wrong.
“Pick her up and place her in the carriage,” he ordered.
The King refused. “How can you take this weak, fragile
being outside in the carriage?”

Yet, the saint insisted. “If you do not follow my orders,
your daughter may not recover. Wrap her warmly if you
like and place her in the carriage. We will travel alone.”
The King had no choice; his options were exhausted and
none had borne any fruit. He could only pray that the holy                                                                                 man knew what he was doing.
So the princess was wrapped in the warmest shawls and
gingerly placed — supported by numerous feather pillows
— in the King’s carriage. The holy man got in beside her and
instructed the driver where to go.

He explained to the princess
as they traveled, “I have a few urgent jobs to take
care of on our way. You can accompany me.” They soon
stopped in a poor area on the outskirts of the Kingdom.
The sage stepped down from the carriage, carrying large
sacks filled with clothing and food. He walked house to
house, delivering bags of rice, lentils, wheat to the impoverished
villagers.

Soon, he returned to the carriage to find— as he had expected
— the princess sitting up straight in her seat, peering
eagerly over the side of the carriage. They drove a
little ways, and again the sage stopped the carriage in another
poor, rural village outside the wealthy kingdom. “I
need your help in this village. There is too much for me to
carry,” he told the princess. She barely needed the help of
his hand to get down from the carriage.

The sage carried the heavy bag and gave the princess the
task of handing the food items and wool sweaters to the
grateful villagers. At the first house, she walked slowly,
delicately, and meekly put her hand in the large sack to
take out the bags of rice and lentils.

However, by the third house she was striding confidently
down the path, and by the fifth house she was picking up
the young children to hold them in her arms. As they walked
back to the carriage, she insisted on helping the saint carry                                                                            the sacks of food, and she did not need any assistance to
get back up into the carriage. Her cheeks were rosy; there
was a beautiful, radiant smile on her face and a glow in her
eyes.

Upon returning to the kingdom, three short hours after
leaving, the princess nearly jumped out of the carriage and
skipped up the steps to the castle! The King was amazed!
How had the saint cured his daughter so completely, in
such a short time?

The saint explained, “Your daughter was suffering from a
lack of meaning in life. She was suffering from the disease
of being spoiled and having every whim gratified. She
was ill from a life being lived in vain. A journey to the poorest
of the poor, a few hours of giving rather than taking,
the experience of service and selflessness are the only
possible cures.”

Thereafter, the princess traveled twice each week with
the saint, back into the poor villages, distributing food,
clothing and other necessary supplies. She used her position
as princess to help improve the living conditions of all
those who lived in poverty. She dedicated herself to helping
all those in need.

And she never suffered from a day of listlessness again…
Every day people in the West go out, go to work, earn
money and become more prosperous. Yet, at the end of
the day, when they return home, they are not happy. What
is the true secret to internal peace and everlasting joy? I                                                                               always tell people, “Be God conscious, not glamour conscious.”
Have Him in the center of your lives and you will
find peace, happiness, meaning and joy.

However, it is difficult frequently to know HOW to implement
the teaching of God in daily life. Yes, we should go to
temple. Yes, we must chant His name (any name which
appeals to us — whether it is Krishna, Rama, Jesus, Allah
or Adonai). Yes, we must read from His holy words. Yes,
we must pray to Him and offer our lives to Him.

However, what else can we do, so many people ask, to
really become aware of God — full of God consciousness
— in our daily lives? We can serve His people! Through
service of the poorest of the poor we come closest to God.
It is easy to see the divine in holy people, easy to serve
those who look pious, proper and beautiful. But, the spiritual
challenge is to see the divine in all, to serve all — from
the highest King to the sickest leper — as though they are
manifestations of God.

Through this selfless service, we not only benefit those
whom we are serving, but we also benefit ourselves immeasurably.
Our hearts fill with joy, with peace and with
love. Our lives become full of meaning.

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ONLY YOU

only you

There once lived a king, but he was not just any king. He
was one of those kings who was so important, so powerful
that history books will talk about him forever. This king
ruled an area bigger than the land we now call America.
His territory extended from sea to sea, across mountain
ranges and deserts, through the jungle. No one knows how
many subjects he had, because there were too many to
count. People used to say that if you put all his money together,
in one place, it would fill the oceans.
This king was the most powerful man the world had ever
seen. Anything he commanded happened instantly. They
tell the story that one time in the middle of winter, the
king was craving mangoes. But, it was winter, and as you
know the trees only give mangoes in the summer. However,
this king was so powerful that when the mango trees
heard he wanted their fruit, they began to produce huge,
beautiful mangoes. The snow was washed off, and the king
had sweet mango in December.
Being such a powerful king of such a large region, he had
to travel quite a bit. And travel in those days was not as
easy as it is today. There were no trains or airplanes. The
king traveled by carriage, or it is more correct to say, he
traveled with an army of carriages. And, because travel
was so slow and difficult, he was frequently gone for long                                                     periods of time.
One time, he had been away for many months, visiting the
farthest reaches of his kingdom, ensuring that everyone
was happy, that everyone was taken care of. For, even
though he was so rich and so powerful and had more subjects
and money than one could count, he had a very pure
heart and was very dedicated to all of his subjects. When
he was about to return home, he sent letters to all of his
queens (in those days kings had many, many queens). In
the letters he asked if there was anything they would like,
any special gift he could bring them from far away. Of
course, he always returned with carriages collapsing under
the weight of so many gifts for his family, but he
wanted to know if they had any special requests.
Each queen sent a list back to the king. “Bring me silk
sarees, lined with gold…bring me diamonds, fresh out of
the Earth….bring me pearls from the depths of the sea….”
However, while all of the other queens sent long lists, one
queen sent only a piece of paper with “1” written on it.
The king was baffled, for even though he was very pure
and very devoted, he was not always very smart. He turned
to his chief minister and said, “This queen is stupid. I knew
when I married her that she was stupid. Everyone else sent
a list of gifts they want. This queen writes only ‘1’ on the
paper. What is ‘1’?”
The chief minister was very wise; he was a true man of
God, and he could see people’s hearts. He laid his hand on
the king’s shoulder. “No, no.” He said. “The ‘1’ means ‘only
you.’ She is saying that she only wants you. Everyone else
wants jewels and sarees and silks. When this queen writes

‘1’ she is saying that you are number one. That you are all
she wants. If you are there, with her, everything is there.
In your presence, she wants nothing, needs nothing. And if
you are not there, nothing can fill the hole left by your
absence – not sarees, not diamonds, not jewels. If you are
not there for whom will she wear the sarees? For whom
will she wear the silks, the diamonds? What is the point of
all these things if you are not there? Where you are, everything
is. So, she wants you to bring yourself to her,
and nothing else.”
The king was silent. “Oh,” he whispered, trembling. For
now he understood. His whole life people had wanted him
for what he had, for what he could do for them, what he
could bring to them. He could bring wealth, he could bring
possessions, he could bring health (for he had all the best
doctors), he could bring grace and blessings (in those days,
people believed that kings carried divine powers). But, no
one had ever wanted only him, just for him. No one had
ever wanted only his presence, even if it carried none of
the other gifts.
Immediately, he sent his servants to fill the orders on the
lists sent by the other queens; he sent his messengers to
deliver those orders. And he, himself, went to the queen.
When he saw her, his eyes locked with hers. Their tears
seemed to flow together. Their souls seemed to embrace,
although their bodies were still many feet apart. He moved
slowly, almost as though floating, toward her. And he took
her in his arms and held her. “You are the only one who has
ever really loved me. The others thought they loved me.
But, they loved me for what I brought to them. They loved
me for how they felt when they were with me. They loved                                                     me for what I symbolized. And you love me only for me.”
And the king stayed there, forever, with the queen. Because
of its purity, their love just grew and grew, and it
showered everything near them with light and joy. Everything
in their presence flourished and blossomed. People
talked far and wide about how the flowers in their garden
were brighter, bigger, more alive than flowers anywhere
else, how the birds all seemed to stay close to the castle.
Even in winter when all the other birds flew to warmer
ground and the land became silent, the birds at this castle
stayed, and sang their blissful songs all year long. Even on
cloudy days, there was always a break in the clouds big
enough to ensure that the sun could shine on this castle.
And the king became even more rich, and even more powerful
– although if you asked him, he would not have even
noticed; he was too busy serving his subjects, serving God
and loving his queen. And their love and light was so strong
that it radiated to the farthest reaches of the kingdom,
bringing joy and peace to all the creatures of the land,
from sea to sea, across mountain ranges and deserts,
through the jungles.
So many times we become completely convinced that having
this or doing that or going there will bring us happiness.
“If only I had more of this,” we say. Children are
famous for this, but perhaps they are actually only more
vocal. We watch TV, we see movies, we see advertisements.
The message in all of these is “Buy this, and then you will
be happy.” Sure the “happiness” takes different forms:
some products bring happiness through beauty, others                                                          bring it through success, others bring it through the right
foods. But, the message is the same: own this and you will
be happy.
God is kind; God is giving. And we are His children. So,
naturally, He will frequently give us what we ask for.
But, when we ask for these things, aren’t we saying to God,
“I don’t really need you, I only need this possession. Your
only purpose is to bring me the possession?” If, however,
we have God in our lives, we have everything. Do you
think that when the King himself goes to the queen’s palace,
all his messengers and servants, all his possessions
don’t come with him? Of course they do. Everything goes
with the king. Where the king is, everything is.
God is the supreme king. The king of our lives. Where He
is, everything is. Let us not lose sight of what it is we really
need to be happy.

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THE POWER OF LOVE

power of love

I heard a beautiful story of a college professor in New
York who gave his business-economy students the assignment
of going into a slum and finding 10 children each to
interview. Then, the university students had to prepare
reports on each of the 10 children they had interviewed.
The final item of the assignment was for the students to
rate each child’s chance of success in the world.
So, the students all completed their assignments. With 20
students in the class, the professor ended up with 200
papers on 200 different children living in a slum area. Every
single report ended with the last question of “What
are this child’s chances of success in the world?” Each
had the same answer: “This child has no chance.”
Twenty or thirty years later, another professor at the
same college came upon these 200 old reports in the
economy department’s filing cabinets. He thought it would
be interesting to see whether all 200 children had really
turned out to be victims of their impoverished, crime-ridden
upbringings.
Amazingly, over 90% of the children who had “no chance”
had turned out to be successful doctors, lawyers or professionals.
The professor was astonished and went to each
one to ask what had helped him or her become a success.

Every single respondent (now they were middle aged) said,
“Well, there was this one teacher I had who changed my
life and gave me the ability to succeed.”
The professor finally found this one teacher who had
changed the lives of all the children. When he found her,
she was past ninety and very frail. He asked her how she
had possibly taken these impoverished children who had
no chance of success in the world and turned more than
90% of them into successful professionals. The old woman
looked at the professor very simply, smiled and said, “I
just loved those children.”
The power of love is enough to give hope to the hopeless,
enough to turn failures into successes, enough to make
lives worth living.

The teacher had not done any special program, nor had
she taught the children any special skills. None of them
recalled a particular lesson, activity or project. Rather, the
simple fact that she loved them and believed in them was
enough to change their lives.
We all have this power to transform not only ourselves,
but others as well. Yet, do we use it? Do we take the divine
gift of love in our hearts and use it as much as possible, to
help as many as we can?
The message of Bhagwan Shri Krishna is, “Love, Love and
Love all.” From the moment He was 6 days old, He had
enemies. So many demons and asuras came to kill Him.
But what did He do? Did He fight them with anger?                                                           Did He hate them? Did He send them forever to Hell? No. He
granted them all liberation.
Wherever Bhagwan Krishna went — whether it was to palaces,
to the simple hut of Vidurji, to the gardens of
Vrindavan — He brought only His divine love. His divine
love changed not only the lives of all those who met Him
during His physical presence on Earth, but the ever-present
love He continues to shower upon us change all who open
their hearts to it.
Let us take to heart His divine message of
“Love All, Hate None. Heal All, Hurt None.”
God has given us a special ability to touch others with our
smiles, to change a life with a simple warm embrace, to
bring meaning to the lives of others by our love. We must
use this divine gift and never let it go in vain.
Flowers blossom under the warm rays of the sun, and the
flowers of our lives — our children, our families, and all
those around us — will blossom only under the warm rays
of our love.
If we learn how to love others, really, truly love them, not
for who we want them to be, but rather for who they are
— for the perfect souls that God has created — then we
have learned one of the greatest lessons of life.

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LOYALTY OF THE BIRDS

LOYALTY OF THE BIRDS

A long time ago, in the times when animals and man and
plants still spoke the same language, there was a large fire
that threatened to burn down many, many acres of forest.
Flames whipped through the ground, devouring small
shrubs, bushes, flowers and grass-lands. All the animals
scampered for safety. Squirrels climbed high in the trees,
frogs hopped quickly to lily pads in the middle of ponds,
deer ran briskly to higher ground, birds flew to safety.
As the fire raged, the billowing flames became more and
more ominous, engulfing more and more of the forest. The
waters of the pond began to boil, and the frogs hopped
desperately from lily pad to lily pad.
Soon the rising flames began to envelop even the oldest,
sturdiest, densest trees, consuming them from the inside
out. Squirrels hopped and monkeys swung from branch to
branch, tree to tree, trying feverishly to escape the fury
and momentum of the fire.
High in one tree sat two birds, and they neither cried with
fear nor attempted to fly to safety. When the forest
ranger, clothed in a fire proof suit and attempting to ensure
the safety of as many animals as possible, saw them
he became frantic. “Fly away,” he cried. “Go…shoo…fly.”
He yelled as loudly as he could, hoping to startle them into
flight.

Yet they remained still, unwavering, complacent. The ranger
picked up branches and began to throw them into the tree.
“Fly away….Go! Go!” He beseeched them. But the birds would
not budge.
Finally, the ranger looked up and cried, “The forest is
burning. This tree will be nothing but ashes in a few hours.
You will die for sure. Why in the world won’t you fly away?”
After many moments of silence one of the birds spoke.
“We have lived our lives in this tree. She has given us
branches on which to build our nests and raise our young.
She has given us fruit to eat and worms to feed to our
babies. Her leaves capture the moisture each night, and in
the morning she has let us suck on them for water. In the
summer, she has blocked the sun and provided us with
shade. In the winter, she has caught the snow herself, so
it would not fall on us. As the wind blows through her
leaves, she has sung to us. She has let us fly quickly to her
highest branches to escape the tigers or other animals who
would eat us. We know she will burn. If there were anything
we could do to save her, we would do it. But, as much
as we have tried to think of something, we realize we are
helpless. There is nothing we can do. However, we will not
leave her now.
“Our whole lives, and our parents’ lives and our grandparents’
lives, she has stood beside us, never flinching, never
failing to provide us with anything we could need. How, in
this most dire moment, could we abandon her? We may not
be able to save her, but we will not let her die alone. That
is why we stay. She will die, and we will die, but she will
not leave us and we will not leave her.”

We are so quick in life to switch loyalties – from one teacher
to another, from one spouse to another, from one way of
being to another. Our hearts are fickle. We will remain
loyal as long as it serves us to do so, as long as we, too,
benefit from the loyalty. But, is that really devotion? There
is a reason that wedding vows include the phrase “for richer
and for poorer, in sickness and in health.”
It is very easy to be attached to someone who is healthy,
happy and prosperous. It is more difficult to remain with
someone who is sick, depressed and indigent. It is even
more difficult to maintain the devotion when it may bring
what looks like harm to you. I say “looks like harm” because
the loss of your faith actually is much more damaging
to your soul than any of these other superficial “catastrophes.”
Pure, single-minded devotion is one of the most beautiful
things on Earth. It is, in fact, the path of Bhakti. Yet, how
many of us are really able to maintain this? Usually, we
love God and have faith in Him when all is wonderful. It is
more difficult to believe in a Divine Plan when that Plan
causes agony. Know, though, that it is at times of distress
that your faith is most important. For, these are really the
lessons of life. This is real spirituality. Spirituality is not about
being where and with whom you are most comfortable. It
is keeping the fire of your loyalty burning regardless of
how much water is being poured on the flames.
This is the beauty of the birds. They realized there was
nothing they could do to keep the fire away from their
tree. So, they calmly and faithfully waited out God’s plan.
This sort of devotion may be seen as blind; it may be viewed                                                  as childish. Yet, those views are from a modern, Western
standpoint which can only see devotion and loyalty as
means to another end. However, they are ends in and of
themselves.
Their simple and pure loyalty is going to carry these birds’
souls to Heaven more than anything they would be able
to accomplish with their remaining years, if they had forsaken
their “mother” tree.

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LOVE, SUCCESS AND WEALTH

LOVE, SUCCESS AND WEALTH

A young woman heard a knock on her door one day. When
she went to open it, she found an old man on her door step.
“Come in, come in,” she said. The man asked, “Is your husband
home?” The woman explained that her husband was
not home, but she invited the man inside anyway.
He refused, however. “I am here with my two friends,”
pointing to two elderly men waiting in the front yard. “However,
we will wait outside until your husband returns.”
That evening as soon as the husband came home, his wife
told him what had happened. “Quick, quick, call them inside,”
the husband exclaimed. “We cannot leave old men
standing in the cold outside.”
So, the woman went outside and beckoned the men in. One
of them rose and said, “Ma’am, we actually cannot all three
come in. You see, I am Love, and with me are Success and
Wealth. Only one of us can enter your home. Please, go
and ask your husband which of us he would like in the home.”
So, the woman went and — relaying the story to her husband
— said, “I think we should invite Success in. Then,
you will get the promotion you’ve been waiting for and we
will become more prosperous.”
However, the husband thought and said, “But, Honey,                                                           I only want the promotion so we can be rich. If we invite
Wealth into our home, then it won’t matter if I get the
promotion, because we will already be rich. I think Wealth
is a better choice.”
Their daughter then quietly spoke, “Mom, Dad. Let us bring
Love into the home. If we have Love with us, then we won’t
care so much about Success or Wealth. We will be rich on
the inside.”
Her parents thought for a moment and finally acquiesced
to their daughter’s wish. So, the woman went outside and –
addressing the man who had introduced himself as Love —
said, “Okay, we have decided. You can come inside.” So,
Love took a step forward and began to walk toward the
house. As he passed through the doorway, the woman noticed
the other two men following. “Wait,” she exclaimed.
“We have chosen Love. You said that only one could come
inside.”
Love then paused and explained gently, “If you had chosen
either Success or Wealth he would have had to enter alone.
However, wherever Love goes, Success and Wealth always
follow.”
If you ask most parents what their concerns are regarding
their children, you’ll hear “I want him to get into a good
university. I want her to get a good job and be successful.”
Time and energy are therefore expended in pushing the
child academically, encouraging the child to excel, punishing
or reprimanding the child for less than superb performance.
Yet, a degree from a top university, a well paying job, a lucrative career                         these are not the true marks
of “success” in life.
True success comes when we are fulfilled, joyful, peaceful
and prosperous – both internally and externally. So, fill
your homes with love — love for God, love for each other,
love for the community, love for all of humanity. Then,
through that love, through that divine connection, all else
will automatically follow. It is when we focus only on Success
or Wealth that we find ourselves rich but not fulfilled,
successful but not content.